Panama Canal Changes Fuel Requirements for Ships

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has modified fuel requirements for vessels entering the canal waters. 

According to changes, ships intending to traverse the waterway that need to anchor at the Pacific or Atlantic Anchorages prior to their transits or vessels that plan to call at the Pacific or Atlantic port terminals will be permitted to use heavy fuel oil to operate their auxiliary engines, boilers and other ancillary equipment during their stay at the anchorage or at the berth.

However, these vessels will be required to perform a changeover from heavy (residual) to light (distillate) fuel that is used to operate their propulsion engines prior to entering the Panama Canal waters.

Ships that opt to burn heavy fuel shall change over to light fuel operation, at least two hours prior to the scheduled pilot time for their transit. Vessels will be deemed ready for their transit only when the changeover to light fuel has been completed, according to the ACP.

Vessels with the sole intention to visit either the Pacific or Atlantic port terminal without transiting the waterway may be allowed to proceed to and from the port terminal on heavy fuel, including the main propulsion engines. These vessels will not be subject to the fuel changeover requirement.

All ships with the intention to transit the canal are obliged to record the fuel changeover in their engine room logbook and/or fuel oil changeover logbook. The logbook entries should specify the date and time of the start and end of the changeover from residual to distillate fuel as well as the sulfur content of fuels, the ACP said.

Previously, the ACP required that vessels complete the switch from heavy to light fuel prior to arriving at the Panama Canal waters. This requirement was believed to resolve operational issues as well as avoid any negative impact on the health of the ACP personnel.

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